Manus inquiry must be transparent
Shadow immigration minister Richard Marles has called for an "arms-length" inquiry into the Manus Island incident that saw one asylum seeker killed and 77 injured.PT2M50S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3304w 620 349 February 19, 2014
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Tony Abbott says he will not be deterred or succumb to "moral blackmail" when it comes to running a "firm" detention centre on Manus Island.
The Prime Minister responded on Thursday to questions about the safety of asylum seekers sent by Australian authorities to detention on Papua New Guinea, in light of the recent violence that left one asylum seeker dead and scores of others severely injured.
Two injured asylum seekers at Manus Island airport leave for Port Moresby on Thursday following riots at the detention centre. Photo: Nick Moir
His comments came as pictures emerged of injured asylum seekers being transferred from Manus Island to Port Moresby for treatment.
Mr Abbott was asked whether, given this week's mayhem, there was a risk that more asylum seekers could die on Manus Island.
''We have a Deputy Secretary of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection up there at the moment to ensure that there is a proper analysis of how it all happened,'' Mr Abbott replied.
The Prime Minister added: "The Australian government will not be deterred or intimidated by anyone when it comes to doing what we need to do to protect our borders.
''We will not succumb to pressure, to moral blackmail. We will ensure that these camps are run fairly. They will be firm if necessary.
''Because the fairest thing you can do for anyone is to stop the boats and to finally stamp out the evil trade of people smuggling.''
While Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed only the barest details of the violence on Manus Island, Fairfax Media has reported more detailed allegations made by an interpreter employed by the Australian Immigration Department.
Azita Bokan alleged that Papua New Guinea locals employed by security guards at the Manus Island detention centre attacked asylum seekers with machetes, knives and rocks. The asylum seekers used plastic chairs as shields to defend themselves, Ms Bokan claimed.
Mr Morrison has increased the number of security guards at the detention centre by more than a third in response to the violence, but the minister said he had no ''verification or any clarification'' of Ms Bokan's allegations.
Investigating the violence was going to be a ''very difficult process'', Mr Morrison said.
''It was a very unruly incident,'' he said.
With Michael Gordon, Sarah Whyte